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How to Choose the Perfect Self-Tanner Shade For Your Skin Tone

It’s easy to get overly excited and grab the darkest self-tanning shades in the market. But the truth is, pinpointing the right shade for you requires a bit of trial and error — especially if you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of your skin type (colour, type, and undertone are just some of the things to be mindful of). And of course, not everyone desires the same kinds of tan for the same purposes — some want a deep, just-got-back-from-a-holiday tan and some just want to even out their complexion.

Whatever your tanning mood is, we’ll help you gain the glow skills to create the perfect sun-kissed shade you are craving.

Thou shall know thy undertones

You may have heard the phrases “cool tones” and “warm tones” pop up in makeup tutorial vlogs — we hope you were paying attention because they are just as relevant in picking out the right self-tanner shade for you.

Our quick tip for pinpointing your undertones: look at your veins in your arms, hands, legs, and anywhere else where they are showing. Veins that are on the greener hue means that you have a warm undertone. Purple or blue veins usually means your undertone is on the cooler sidel. If you can’t quite tell the difference, chances are you are blessed with a neutral undertone or an undertone with a similar hue as your skin tone.

This rule is definitely not black and white, but it is a great starting point to narrowing down your skin profile.

Use the tanning cheat sheet

Here’s our fast and dirty list to picking out the right self-tanner shade:

Warm Undertone – Look for shades that are deeper and warmer like a golden brown or mocha shade. A good identifier is if the tanner has hints of burgundy or yellow. Note that warmer self-tanner shades don’t have to be too deep — figuring out the right balance between your skin type and the product you’re using can still give you a fresh and light glow.

Our recommendation: 

Choc Coconut or Decadently Dark.

Cool Undertone – Go for lighter tans, beiges, or even a subtle peach shade. Never underestimate a soft warm hue as it can still can add depth, but do take caution in going too warm.

Our recommendation: Bronze Bliss or Skinsation.

Neutral Undertone – If there’s one thing you have to err caution in, it’s going on opposite extremes. Remove anything too pink or too yellow from your self-tanning options. Neutral undertones can be tricky to figure out, but knowing where you are on the hue scale will eventually unlock this unique skin tone’s versatility. If you’re not quite there yet, we recommend starting off with brown-based tanners.

Our recommendation: Choc Coconut or

Bronze Bliss.

Not all parts of the body tan equally

Here’s something that’s often overlooked: not all parts of the body are of the same shade. Some are more pale or redder in the face, some are more tanned in the arms, etc. Just like in makeup, be aware of the different hues from your head to your toes, and adjust accordingly to get the most even glow possible.

Don’t forget the basics

As always, a good and effective tan starts with setting the proper foundations. Make sure to give our post on genius tanning hacks a quick read before getting your glow on.

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